I’m still feeling my way into this comments system, but my first days with Ruby are making me think back a dozen years or more, to when I was learning Perl. It was a big data-filtering job and Michael Leventhal had pulled together a very typical Perl bundle-of-regexps and suddenly one day I was pitching in on handling more types of input data and pulling out more structure. Larry Wall, the author of Perl, is a linguist by training, and is proud of the fact that with Perl, as with a natural language, you don’t have to be an expert to be effective Just as a child derives value from using English even if inexpertly, a novice Perl programmer starts being rewarded quickly. Other languages have this characteristic to a greater or lesser degree; and I’m beginning to think Ruby is right up there. (For me, Java had it too, as it would I think for any expert C programmer comfy with O-O thinking.) At the moment, there are lots of Ruby idioms that are still gibberish to me; but I find two crucial things: my pidgin Ruby is already pretty useful for getting things done, and I’m learning new tricks.